Building a Toolkit to Enable Organizations to Advance Business Operations
Exciting new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, language processing, robotics, and blockchain are becoming a normal part of organization’s IT strategy as they begin to automate their processes. However, there are many readily available tools that can be used to advance business operations by simplifying work, improving the quality of provided services, improving speed and delivery of services, and saving organizations money without the need to install complex software. The toolkit described below is a great way to start improving any business process today!
Tool 1: Process Maps
Business processes can sometimes be very obviously encumbered by bureaucracy, a lack of training, or a ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ mindset. Even if there are not many problems at the face of a process, underlying issues may cause unnecessary strain on employees. Thus, it is important to periodically map out business processes to eliminate potentially redundant tasks, overlapping efforts, and hindering barriers to the group of related activities that together create a result of value to customers.
A map is simply a graphical representation of a process, including the inputs, outputs, and steps of the process. It should illustrate the flow of the work and the interaction with the organization. Mapping a process is very useful because it helps employees easily absorb and interpret information about a process, thus creating buy-in to improve the process in an organized way.
Tool 2: RACI and Job Design
In order to implement a change to a process, it is important to know and document who should be responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed about the process change.
- Responsible employees are people who do the work, facilitate it, and/or organize the work.
- Accountable employees are the ones who have the authority to approve or deny decisions.
- Consulted employees are people who have critical expertise to contribute before a decision is made.
- Informed employees are people who will be significantly affected and must therefore be informed to ensure the successful implementation.
Defining this ownership of process activities and documenting it helps throughout a process change and ensures the right people are at the table when strategizing improvements.
The RACI can also be leveraged to create a job description for a role as the combination of the RACI and the Process map together describe all the work that needs to be done and who performs the work. Once a comprehensive picture of the work is created, organizations can then review their assigned resources to determine if the fit is correct. It may be necessary to upskill, cross-train, or in some cases swap out resources assigned to a job.
Tool 3: Process Owners
A Process Owner is the person solely responsible for owning a process. They are accountable for designing the process, using the right people and financial and technical resources to run the process, and delivering quality outcomes as required within the organization. They also have the necessary “clout” to secure the resources necessary to support the process and to make decisions about improving the process.
A Process Owner goes beyond the role of a manager. A manager makes sure the work gets done; a Process Owner makes sure the process is as efficient, effective, and adaptable as possible and supports the continuous improvement initiatives required to achieve that goal. Having this role defined and deploying the role throughout the organization is a powerful tool to enact improvements.
The aforementioned tools provide structure and organization when mapping out and improving business processes. They are relatively simple, cost-effective, and efficient ways of advancing business processes in any industry.
For more information on Process Improvement Initiatives including business process mapping, visit Elire’s Strategic Advisory Services Page. For those interested in learning more about Digital Transformation in Project and Process Management, view Elire’s recent webinar, “Project Management Tools: Driving Digital Transformation with your Teams.”